Rounding out the circle for sustainable fashion

AirRobe is an impact-driven brand that values environmental returns as well as providing financial returns.

AirRobe is a marketplace for pre-loved clothes that brings retailers, merchants and fashion lovers together in the circular economy with just one click via an eCommerce widget. The initiative allows consumers to turning retail therapy into an investment whilst saving the environment at the same time.

“Our mission is to tackle fast fashion through innovation and empower every shopper and retailer to join the circular economy and make a positive impact on the planet, one preloved item at a time,” AirRobe’s Founder, Hannon Comazzetto, says. “We are an impact-driven brand that values environmental returns as well as financial returns, like so many of our customers.”

Hannon’s premise was to innovate on the worn-out process of reselling to make it easy and fun for shoppers. The platform captures the images and details of purchased items and stores them in the customer’s AirRobe account so that if at any point in time down the track they want to move that item on they can choose to re-sell, rent or recycle it.

While resale was once a curse word for high-end brands trying to preserve their ‘luxury’ kudos, labels such as Gucci have validated its resurgence by collaborating with online consignment store The Real Real. And Levis have also joined the party, creating their own secondhand marketplace to retain some of the resale profit. Resale is expected to grow by 500 per cent in the next five years, and Hannon believes that AirRobe will encourage a wider span of consumers to think about fashion’s potential circularity.

“I began reselling as a teenager, but always felt the process would be more popular if it wasn’t so clunky,” Hannon says. “Having to take photos, write descriptions and look up resale prices was slow and off-putting – it’s such a disincentive and cuts out a lot of the consumers who would otherwise love to be reselling their pre-loved items.”

So, Hannon’s on a mission to incentivise the creation of – and the investment in – timeless, long-lasting pieces by giving fashion brands and consumers the tools to monetise the circular economy.

“We’re giving retailers the chance to become early adopters of this circular business model,” Hannon says. “Consumers are beginning to see their wardrobe as an asset.”

AirRobe supports this by encouraging consumers to stop thinking of fashion as instant, short-lived and disposable, but rather as an investment they will look after, because they may sell it on down the line, like a house or car.

One of AirRobe’s first collaborators was sustainable online retail store The Fashion Advocate, and that venture’s founder, Claire Goldsworthy says that she saw “tangible results” from day one of launching AirRobe’s solution on The Fashion Advocate’s eCommerce site – year-on-year they saw a 76 per cent increase in average order value and a 300 per cent increase in customer retention.

As well as a growing list of merchants, AirRobe features independent vendors of good quality secondhand fashion, and collaborates with fashion stylists by developing branded AirRobe stores for their archives.

“It’s now widely agreed that the most sustainable product is the one you’re saving from landfill, and since the stats show that in 10 years, resale’s biggest advocates Gen Z and the Millennials will account for 60 per cent of total retail spend, it looks like circular fashion is here to stay,” Hannon says.

This article first appeared in issue 34 of the Inside Small Business quarterly magazine